At the age of 16, Master Blaster Sachin Tendulkar made his debut in red-ball cricket on November 15 1989, against arch-rivals Pakistan in Karachi. In the match, which ended in a draw, Tendulkar could only score 15 runs in the first innings, after he was bowled by Pakistan pacer Waqar Younis, who also made his Test debut in the same match, at the age of 17.
Coincidentally, Tendulkar’s final Test innings came on the same day, in 2013, against West Indies at his home ground in Mumbai. The batsman scored 74 runs in the match before he was dismissed by Narsingh Deonarine. In his stellar 24-year long career, Tendulkar scored 15,921 runs in 200 Tests, at an average of 53.78, with 51 centuries under his belt. He also scored 18,426 runs in 463 ODIs at an average of 44.83 with 49 tons under his name.
But, did you know Tendulkar’s debut in the Pre-satellite television meant India never got to see the moment, for Doordarshan was busy covering ongoing elections.
The 9th Lok Sabha Elections were contested that year. It was a historic moment, for Indian National Congress was famously ousted from the ‘throne’ following a collective effort from several regional parties. Support came from BJP and CPIM as well. VP Singh, leader of Janata Dal, became India’s seventh Prime Minister.
For some reason, there was no radio coverage either. This meant that fans had to wait till the evening news to follow the score.
The Test was significant for Indian cricket in more ways than one. After much deliberation, the selectors had decided to axe Mohammad Azharuddin in favour of Raman Lamba. On the morning after, Lamba had pulled out with a toe injury and Azhar played. Later in the Test, Azhar scored a quick 35 in each innings. These were not earth-shattering scores. However, when combined with a world record-equalling 5 catches in the first innings, they were enough to seal a spot for him in the Test side.
Tendulkar eventually emerged on Day Two. He was probably slated to bat at No. 5. However, Wasim Akram took out two quick wickets while his debutant partner Waqar got another at the other end.
Manoj Prabhakar emerged at 13 for 3. Tendulkar’s entry was delayed till 41 for 4. He hit two fours in his 15 before Waqar bowled him. Video highlights of the cameo are available on YouTube now. There was an on-drive that hiccoughed its way along the rugged turf. There was a deft steer past backward point. And then he was bowled through the gate.
It took some rearguard action to help India avoid the follow-on, with Ravi Shastri, Kapil Dev, and Kiran More. India, asked to bat four sessions or chase 453, chose the former and finished on a healthy 303 for 3. They batted well. Tendulkar batted only once on debut.
Despite numerous YouTube reruns of a 100-Test-spanning career, it will remain a fact that India never got to see the moment Sachin Tendulkar was awarded the Test cap or the first ball he faced at the highest level.
Pakistan 409 (Shoaib Mohammad 67, Javed Miandad 78, Imran Khan 109*; Kapil Dev 4 for 69, Manoj Prabhakar 5 for 104) and 305 for 5 decl. (Shoaib Mohammad 95, Saleem Malik 102*; Kapil Dev 3 for 82) drew with India 262 (Kapil Dev 55, Kiran More 58*; Wasim Akram 4 for 83, Waqar Younis 4 for 80) and 303 for 3 (Navjot Sidhu 85, Sanjay Manjrekar 113*).
Man of the Match: Kapil Dev.
The original article first appeared here: Sachin Tendulkar’s Test debut: A moment India did not get to see